1 9 7 9 (UK)
10 x 50 minute episodes
Tom Crane (James Hazeldine) is a newspaper journalist with a high level of psychic powers who is secretly a member of Department 7, a fictional branch of the British government in Edinburgh which investigates paranormal incidents and crimes involving telepathy, past-life regression, poltergeists, mind control and hauntings.
Led by department head Andrew Scott-Erskine (Brown Derby), the Department 7 team also includes Dr Roy Martindale (John Carlisle), Dr Anne Reynolds (Louise Jameson), medium Mrs Coleman (Sheila Latimer), mute psychic Morag (Natasha Gerson) and Paul (Jack D’Arcy) – who is also assisted by The Mysterious Spirit (who only appears to him)
Tom’s family include his wife Julia (Joanna Tope), and his brother Michael (Nicholas Coppin).
Over 10 episodes, Tom gradually realises that a mysterious organisation called Omega is
harnessing psychic powers in a play for world domination.
Rogue psychic Edward Drexel (Cyril Luckham) is an enemy of Department 7.
The Omega Factor came about by accident. Former Doctor Who producer George Gallicco had been sent to Scotland to produce a second series of The Standard but when the first series did not perform well, the plug was pulled on further episodes.
Left with 10 vacant slots in their programming, Rod Graham – Head of Drama at BBC Scotland – agreed to allow Gallico and writer Jack Gerson to make a paranormal drama set in Edinburgh.
Because of the tight production schedule, Gerson was only able to write the first and last episodes (although he did find time to write a tie-in novel, published at the same time as the BBC transmission).
The other writers who contributed to The Omega Factor were inherited from The Standard, as they had already been lined up to write for its second season: Sean Hignett, Eric MacDonald, Nick McCarty, Tom Wright and Tony Read (who’d just vacated the script editor’s chair on Doctor Who).
‘Clean Up TV’ campaigner Mary Whitehouse wrote to the Controller of BBC Scotland, describing The Omega Factor as “thoroughly evil” and “one of the most disturbing programmes I have ever seen on television”. She also claimed that certain scenes violated the BBC’s 1979 code on violence.
On 15 August 1979, The Omega Factor concluded, with the Omega conspiracy exposed and Tom Crane heading back to London.
Dr Anne Reynolds
Dr Roy Martindale